Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
Strong Summary: Turnovers Costly for Philly, Boost Bills to 4-1
They made it interesting late, but Buffalo’s defense came to play Sunday, forcing five Philadelphia turnovers. The Eagles couldn’t get anything going early, but did find some success in the second half. Michael Vick threw for over 300 yards, and tucked the ball 5 times for 90 yards, racking up over 400 total yards of offense alone. His season high 4 interceptions, however, proved far to costly too come out on top. This defense definitely has a nose for the ball, and the end zone. It’s only the second time in team history the Bills have had three straight games with an interception for a touchdown. They currently lead the league with 12 picks, one more than they had all of last year.
Philly had no trouble running the ball, averaging 9.2 yards per carry, with Vick and LeSean McCoy carrying the load. However, they were playing catch-up from the git-go, and didn’t get McCoy as many touches as they would have liked. He ended up rushing only 11 times for 80 yards (7.3 ypc) and a score.
The Eagles made some big moves this offseason, acquiring the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha among others, overlooking depth and creating a very top heavy team. Their early season struggles have been well documented, as they do have one of the more talented teams in the league, but just can’t seem to put it together. They proved that once again today, not only with the turnover fiasco, but with some ill-advised mistakes. They had an opportunity to at least attempt a field goal as time wound down in the first half, but Mike Vick threw the ball out of the back of the endzone just a second too late, allowing time to expire. And arguably the biggest mistake of all came when defensive end Juqua Parker jumped offsides on a 4th-and-inches to seal the game.
Their offensive line is one of their weaker links, and were without their most solid lineman, former Buffalo Bill Jason Peters. The Bills took advantage of this early and often. Although they recorded only 1 sack (Shawn Merriman), they got good pressure on Mike Vick throughout the game. Vick was his usual self avoiding would be tacklers, but Buffalo seemingly got to the Eagles QB often, knocking him down 6 times. I was happy to see defensive coordinator George Edwards use some nice blitz packages to keep the pressure on, forcing Vick to make quick decisions and allowing the defensive unit to make some plays. Buffalo boasts a big front, and their approach to getting hands up in the passing lanes proved effective on the shorter Vick. DE/OLB Alex Carrington tipped a pass intended for McCoy leading to the first interception by Reggie Corner. Yes, forcing turnovers is huge. They can single handely win ball games, and are a staple of all great defenses. Living and dying by a pick or a fumble is not a recipe for long term success though, and I’d like to see some more consistency against both the pass and the rush.
That being said, kudos to the D for continually making things happen. George Wilson has recieved some ostensibly deserved criticism through the first quarter of the season, but was all over the field Sunday. He led the team with 11 tackles, recorded his 2nd interception of the season, and batted a ball down with authority on a 3rd and 1, forcing a punt. Jairus Byrd ripped the ball out of Jason Avant’s hands on a would be big gain and first down, recovering the fumble as well. Nick Barnett had two huge interceptions. His first went for a touchdown, and his second came with Philly threatening in Bills territory with under 2 minutes to play in regulation, and ultimately led to the icing on the cake. The play making ability on that side of the ball is truly a sight a see.
Meanwhile, Buffalo’s offense, while not overly explosive, did exactly what they needed to do to win the game. Fitzpatrick averaged only 7.1 yards per attempt, giving Freddy all the opportunities many Bills fan felt was necessary. Freddy did not disappoint. He rushed 26 times for 111 yards (4.3 ypc) with a score while catching all 6 of his targets for 80 yards. It was clear he was the focal point of the offense, and rightfully so. Fitzy did throw a touchdown pass to David Nelson, and did what he does best, spreading the ball to seven different receivers, targeting nine.
Buffalo travels to East Rutherford, New Jersey next Sunday to take on the Giants, who are coming off a gut-wrenching loss to the Seattle Seahawks. It’ll be interesting to see how Vegas has this game favored, as the Eagles, at 1-3, were favored over a 3-1 Bills team at home. I expect to see a little more respect this week in a tough match up for the Bills on the road.
Nevertheless, It’s a great time to be a Bills fan. Five weeks into the season, and they already have as many wins as all of last year. There’s still plenty of football to be played, but the first playoff berth in over a decade is definitely within reach, and a real possibility.